The Nature of Grace: Becoming Real
by Katie Myers, Lay Leader
Bear with one another, forgiving one another as the Lord has forgiven you. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:13-14
A few years ago I had a dream that I was riding down the highway in a car. As I looked out the window, I saw a friend of mine cruising alongside us. She was leaning back, hands laced behind her head, completely at ease. I waved frantically at my friend hoping she would see me, but she couldn’t because the windows of my car were tinted and rolled up.
How often do we go through life with our windows rolled up or heavily tinted so that no one can see us? At the same time, we want desperately to be seen and acknowledged, to be loved and accepted. Somehow we have to roll the windows down and allow ourselves to be seen as we really are – a little rough around the edges maybe and yet also beautiful, blessed, be-loved children of God. We have to become real.
In The Velveteen Rabbit, the Skin Horse explains that toys become real, “when a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you.” Likewise, we are loved into reality in relationships and communities that foster vulnerability and openness and remind us of our own belovedness.
We hope to learn over time what it means to love and be loved in relationship with each other, but it’s not always easy. As anyone who grew up with brothers and sisters can attest – siblings are great, but they also take your stuff without asking, compete with you for your parents’ attention, boss you around, and don’t do what you tell them to do. All relationships and communities have these tensions, yet when we stay engaged beyond the aggravations and hurts, past the bumps and being rubbed the wrong way —what the writer of Colossians calls “bearing with one another”— we come to find that through God’s grace transformation occurs. The annoyances no longer matter so much. They may even become beloved, a mark of the uniqueness that makes that person who they are. We discover that we too are loved and love-able just as we are. My son once said to me of a friend of his, “He be’s really annoying sometimes.” To which I responded, “Well you be’s really annoying some-times too.” And isn’t that the truth of us? What a blessing to know ourselves loved and accepted anyway.
Being loved into realness is costly. The Skin Horse tells the Velveteen Rabbit — “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.” In the end we too may fit this description pretty closely! Somehow though it doesn’t really matter. Clothed in love, we understand that we are beau-tiful in a new and deeper way. As the Skin Horse says, “But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly….” We realize at the last the blessing in the admonition to the Colossians: Love, given and received through the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, brings us to each other perfectly imperfect and yet lovelier still in mutual relationships of support and care and harmony.
Ann Voskamp writes that in bearing with one another in love and forgiveness our “angular, hard edges…are being sanded down by all our scrapes and falls, till we’re round and soft and can get close enough to each other to just hold each other.” Friends, this Lent, let us embrace the ways loving and being loved blesses us and transforms us and allows us to just hold each other. May Laurel Heights be known as a community that, by the grace of God, bears with one another, forgives one other, and above all is clothed in love.
Katie Myers is the Lay Leader for 2019, a role that works to support and encourage the leaders and ministries of the church and develop the work of the membership to be ever growing disciples of Jesus Christ. She is married to Webb and mom to Molly and Allen.